President Ma Ying-jeou's efforts to build a diverse communal coalition have taken a hit after an official was alleged to have called Taiwan's majority population "primitive" and suggested China should use force to seize the island.The article is quite good -- reporting on the identity conflict here is always a minefield. Although it seems weird to report that Ma's parents were from China without reporting that Ma was born there too (in Guangdong province), I suspect the writer wanted to emphasize Ma's Chinese ancestry here. It's probably much too early to say whether this will affect the elections -- Taiwanese appear to vote in local elections with remarkably little attention to issues at the international or national level, and every voter knows that such feelings are widespread among mainlanders, yet a substantial portion of Taiwanese are KMT voters. They shrug it off and vote for whoever is yanking on their patronage networks.
The affair is a huge embarrassment to Ma, who has worked hard to unite Taiwan's fractious communal groups to support his ambitious China engagement program, despite continuing Chinese threats to take over democratic Taiwan by force.
While it is unlikely to delay the program's implementation — it still enjoys strong support — it could cost Ma's party votes in this year's local elections, as so-called "native Taiwanese" return to the communally conscious — and anti-China — opposition, the Democratic Progressive Party.
The affair burst into the limelight late last week when Kuo Kuan-ying of Taiwan's representative office in Toronto admitted he described himself in a newspaper essay as a "superior mainlander" — a politically charged reference to the 2 million people who came to the island in 1949 after the Chinese civil war and dominated its institutions for the next 50 years.
Amid growing local outrage, Kuo denied more serious charges of referring to the majority population of native Taiwanese as "primitives," and writing that "China should use force to take over" Taiwan, even though the island "was not qualified" to unite with Beijing.
Lawmakers identified with the interests of native Taiwanese have led the public criticism against Kuo. They say a pen name he is known to have used was on an essay that contained those inflammatory anti-Taiwan, pro-China statements.
Ma, whose parents were born in China, is particularly vulnerable on that issue, because he is struggling against a widespread perception that many mainlanders favor unity with China. Taiwan split from the mainland amid civil war in 1949, and has been self-governing ever since.
The story continues to create a furor locally, however. In addition to Kuo's alleged pen name "范蘭欽" sounding like "泛藍軍" (pan-Blue army), his other alleged pen name, "辛文菊" sounds like the name of his employer, the GIO: "新聞局." This link has a chart in Chinese that maps the posts of Fan and appears to indicate that not only are Fan and Kuo the same person, but Kuo made the posts during office hours.
Maddog also flipped me this story from Sina.com, which says that the GIO's claim that he has been demoted from "主管" position to that of "非主管" is...not correct. Apparently he doesn't have the position of "主管" in the first place -- he is merely a "代理".
UPDATE: I should add that the nobody has uttered a single word about United Daily News, which gave Fan's garbage an outlet. Aren't they just as bad?
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!